Those of you close to me or who happen to frequent my blog for kicks may be unaware of Jonathan Maberry. He's a fairly prolific horror author, publishing over 20 fiction titles in addition to a number of non-fiction books and essays. How good is he? Well, he's been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award eight times, winning it on four occasions.
In short, the guy can write.
This weekend, I was fortunate enough to be at the inaugural meeting of the San Diego Writer's Coffeehouse, a writing group organized by Maberry and a few of his friends. Several years ago, while still living in Philadelphia, PA, Maberry began the same type of group there -- where writers from all levels of success, all kinds of genres, and all stages of experience -- could meet to discuss the craft and business of writing. The San Diego version is modeled after the Philadelphia group, which meets once monthly, and now has over 100 members.
In addition to relaying sage writing advice at this event, he also doled out a bit of life wisdom. Among his most memorable concepts was 1) never underestimate the importance of relationship building and 2) remember to reward yourself.
I know what you're thinking: haven't I heard those before? Of course you have. Wisdom isn't about breaking new ground. Often it is more about restating what we already know in a way that others can identify with. His focus on relationships bridged the art and business of the writing world well, but what struck me was the particular way he framed his view on self-rewards.
I've always known the psychological benefits of rewarding yourself. Even my favorite TV character, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks), once stated, "Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it. Don't wait for it. Just let it happen." However, I had never heard of concrete ways to do this that resonated with me.
Each day, according to him, he sets an achievable goal for his work. For example, let's say his goal is to write 3,000 words each day. Upon reaching benchmarks on the way to that goal (every 1,000 words), he places a dollar bill into a jar. Once a year, he empties the fund and uses it for travel.
What a beautiful, concrete way of rewarding yourself for something! He noted that rewards come too few and far between for writers, so it's important to make something more immediate. Regardless of whether or not his work gets published (it didn't used to all the time when he began this trick, but now he doesn't have to worry about that as much), he gets "paid" for writing with a vacation.
So that is what I relay to you today. We've all heard the importance of "rewarding" yourself. A dollar, two dollars, three dollars a day? Within a year, you can be on a beach in the Keys. You can have a new computer. You can buy 600 tacos at Taco Bell. I don't care what you do -- just find your achievable goal and get to it!
Oh, and visit www.jonathanmaberry.com to check out some of his work. If more people in the world of writing (and art) had his positive outlook, more of us would be getting inspired all the time.
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